If there is one thing many Canadians have in common, it is a passionate dislike for winter. Witness the large numbers of us travelling south for a week, a month or the entire winter.
But what if all-inclusives, a Florida condo or a Palm Spring villa are not your thing?
Here are our favourite destinations adventure travellers should travel to in winter.
Flamenco, bullfights and rhythmic guitars; white villages perched on top of cliffs; a Moorish heritage culminating in Granada's Alhambra; the forgotten hamlets of the Alpujarras; beautiful hills covered in forests, orange groves and olive trees; an entire region given over to romance and heightened emotions. This is Andalusia. And in winter it is blissfully quiet.
Nature in Iceland is designed to make you feel small - volcanoes covered by ice loom over a verdant green coastline, glaciers grind their way to the ocean, geysers erupt and the northern lights dance in the sky. All the while culture blooms - from medieval sagas to modern pop-musicians and Nobel-prize winning authors. And then there is the glorious food and the warm, quirky people - what is there not to love about Iceland? And winter adds a whole different dimenstion to your tour - stunning sunsets offer great photography and you may just see the northern lights!
Steep mountains rising from the turquoise Mediterranean, slopes covered in lemon groves, white-washed villages lining deep valleys where they meet the ocean. In Amalfi you follow ancient footpaths and stairs up the hills to hamlets tucked away in forest-covered hills.
Or explore the meeting point between East and West, Africa and Europe, Islam and Christendom - Sicily has been a melting pot of cultures since the days of the ancient Greeks. It is a mesmerisingly beautiful island and a highlight for many visitors to Italy.
Or picture olive groves with trees as ancient as the world, a landscape dotted with trulli and criss-crossed by quiet country lanes, beautiful towns boasting exquisite churches and sea side resorts perched over azure-blue seas. And then there is the food, the glorious food that made Puglia famous.
History is writ large in Portugal. From its maritime past which fuelled the wealth of Lisbon and Porto, to the walled towns situated on dramatic hills guarding its borders, to its traditional values living strong in a country that has also embraced the future.
Visitors are struck by the friendliness of its people and the affordable food and wine but above all by the sheer diversity of this small nation. Then there are myriad activities - and winter is the perfect time to walk Madeira or hike the Camino without the crowds.
Miles of turquoise coastline, sun-bleached ancient ruins, great food and a passionate people. Experience our Greece from the tavernas of the Greek islands to the monasteries of Meteora; from the oracle of Delphi to the Acropolis in Athens and from the hills and ravines of Crete to the sheer cliffs of Santorini. Come and discover Greece with us off-season!
A country where the clock has stood still for 60 years, where road-side billboards declare "Socialism or Death" and where commercialism is still refreshingly absent. A land proud of its heritage where people greet you warmly on every corner. A place where old classic cars mingle with horse-drawn carts, where the beaches are pure white sand and palms and sugar cane sway in a gentle breeze. Throw in a beguiling mix of revolutionary music, salsa and decaying colonial towns and you have a country you do not want to miss.
A country proud of its cultural and natural heritage, Belize occupies a sliver of land between Central American jungles and the Caribbean. Belize's Barrier Reef has some of the best snorkelling and diving anywhere on the planet. Where the reef peeps out of the water you will find sandy Cays, perfect for kayaking, paddleboarding or just lazing about. The jungles of the interior, where tubing, canoeing and caving are but some of the activities offered are a haven for myriad wildlife, flora and birds. Lost within are Mayan archaeological sites with numerous temples and tombs. Beautiful Belize is an adventure playground, a nature lovers' dream come true and a beach paradise all rolled into one.
A hidden rainforest trail leads to an azure-blue pond, where a waterfall plunges down, inviting you to a refreshing dip. Walk on up the hill discovering plenty of wildlife and birds along the way. Stand still, awe-inspired at the view over the forest canopy. Zipline down back to your hotel and enjoy a spot of kayaking, rafting, snorkelling or sailing or simply an afternoon on the beach. This is La Pura Vida - Costa Rica style.
Welcoming, sophisticated people, epic scenery, timeless colonial towns and outdoor adventures galore, Colombia has been waiting to be discovered. From the cloud-forested mountains of the Andes to the jungles of the Amazon, from the gorgeous old town of Cartagena to the Lost City and from the pretty coffee plantations in the highlands to the palm-fringed beaches of the Caribbean, Colombia is one varied, fascinating country.
Ecuador packs a lot of variety into a small country. The undisputed highlight is the Galapagos Archipelago, with their otherworldly volcanic landscapes and stunning array of wildlife. Snorkel with sea lions and penguins, come close to boobies and albatrosses, iguanas and tortoises and watch whales. This is nature in its primordial state, nature as it used to be.
Squeezed between the depths of the Pacific and the rough waters of the Atlantic, Patagonia's pampas, volcanoes, peaks and glaciers are magnets for travellers. There are the towering granite pillars of Torres del Paine, the staggering array of wildlife of Península Valdés, Ushuaia, dramatically hemmed in between mountains and the icy waters of the Beagle Channel, Perito Moreno, one of the easiest accessible ice fields in the world, the stunning landscapes of mountains and lakes around Bariloche and the Fitzroy range offering world-class hiking, ice climbing and camping amidst some of the most spectacular mountain scenery you will see anywhere in the world.
No other destination in the world will leave you feeling as insignificant before nature, yet as alive, as Antarctica does. Giant glaciers calving enormous icebergs; penguins porpoising through the waters; leopard seal chasing their prey; whales feeding and coming up for air, curiously inspecting you in your zodiac. Hike along pristine shorelines and up snowy ridges to experience incredible views. This is Planet Earth at it's best, a proverbial Eden, Earth as it was before the arrival of humankind. This is a journey of a lifetime and Antarctica will change you forever.
The land Downunder offers spectacularly situated and sophisticated cities, stunning coral reefs, lush rain forests and the remote Outback with its incredible rock formations, wide-open spaces and Indegenous culture.
Travelling to New Zealand feels like stepping back in time, a time when things were simpler and easier. But at the same time this is a progressive country as well, ready to protect its treasure trove of incredible natural wonders, from miles-long beaches in the north to mountain-ringed fjords in the south and the volcanoes, alpine landscapes, lakes and vineyards in between.
The moment you set eyes on the Taj Mahal, you know you are seeing an edifice unlike any other. India is like that - it stirs the soul, it challenges your conceptions, it changes you. It is a spectacular mix of people, traditions and landscapes, from Himalayan peaks to the hills, backwaters and beaches of the south, from the sacred Ganges to the deserts of Rajasthan. Temples, shrines and fortresses are everywhere, reminders of an ancient history and spirituality. One thing is for sure: you will remember your journey through this fascinating country long after you've left its shores.
Sri Lanka, the Resplendent Isle, the Pearl of the Orient. Splendid temples, ancient ruins, welcoming people and flavourful food are all to be found within this small country. Search the jungles for elephant, leopard and water buffalo, walk among tea plantations and waterfalls to rainforest-covered peaks and take a spectacular train ride through the highlands. Top it all off with some time on the dazzlingly white and often untrod beaches.
Laos A land forgotten by time, Laos is ready to rush head-first into the 21st century. Yet traditions are strong, from alms-giving to Buddhist monks, to quiet river-side fisher villages in the south. Then there are the mystical Plain of Jars, the temples of Luang Prabang,, stunning waterfalls, relaxed boat rides, kayaking with dolphins, ethnic villages and jungle-clad mountains.
A breathtakingly beautiful country, Vietnam is at once incredibly exotic and utterly compelling. Gaze over the surreal limestone islands of Halong Bay, walk or cycle through rice paddies, soak up the street scenes in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, get clothing tailored in Hoi An, dodge traffic in Saigon, enjoy delicious food, laze on long sandy beaches and mingle and laugh with the engaging locals. Vietnam is all that and more.
There are few experiences on earth matched by the setting of the sun at Angkor Wat, the famous temple complex in Cambodia, a stunning blend of spirituality and symmetry. Beyond Angkor, come eye to eye with recent history at the killing fields, discover the glittering spires of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, enjoy delicious food , mingle with local people, enjoy the lively cafe culture or relax on the beautiful beaches.
Lush rice paddies, tropical forests and ancient villages; hazy mountains with cascading waterfalls; craggy limestone cliffs rising from the land; gleaming temples and golden Buddhas; jungle-covered islands anchored in azure waters; miles of sandy beaches; bustling cities and markets packed with people and produce. Welcome to Thailand, the Land of Smiles.
Until recently a country that was hermetically sealed off to western tourists, Saudi Arabia has now opened its doors. Be one of the first to discover its deserts and oases, its modern cities and traditional neighbourhoods, the enigmatic Nabatean ruins deep in the sands of the north and the lush mountains of the coastal range.
Oman is a hidden gem in the Middle East, affected by neither instability nor oil wealth. The country boasts a rich cultural heritage, a fabulous past, traditional charms, and Bedouin values. From Muscat's Grand Mosque to the dunes at the Wahiba Sands and from spectacular views of the Grand Canyon of Arabia to the cattle market and fort in Nizwa, travel deep into the deserts, drink coffee with a Bedouin family, sail a traditional dhow along the coast and enjoy a swim in the beautiful turquoise pools of the desert oasis of Wadi Bani Khalid.
As you walk through the Siq to the Treasury at Petra, you cannot help but be in awe. Hand-hewn red sandstone buildings rise up into the clear desert sky, remembering ancient caravans of spice traders travelling far and wide to sell their wares. In the Roman ruins at Jerash and in the crusader castles and Byzantine mosaics along the King’s Highway, history is everywhere in this beautiful land. Travel through canyons and oases, stay with locals among the rock formations of Wadi Rum, and begin to understand why T.E. Lawrence loved this land.
Whether you walk among the beautiful rock formations of the White Desert, admire the sunrise from Mount Sinai, or soak in a hot spring in remote Siwa, the magnificent desert is all around you in Egypt. But it is the Nile that is the lifeblood of this dry country, the river that gave us one of the world's oldest civilizations. Witness the pyramids, citadel, mosques and museums in Cairo, the towering Pharaonic temples and Valley of the Kings near Luxor and the masterpiece of a temple Ramses II built in Abu Simbel. Join a Nile cruise and visit edifices where time has stood still for centuries. No matter how you travel, Egypt will leave an impression on you.
Endless savannas awash in vast numbers of animals; tribal people who bring colour to the land. That is Kenya in a nutshell. As you are in awe of the herds of wildebeest on the Maasai Mara, enjoy yet another glorious African sunset on the plains of Samburu, or spot a leopard in the trees of Nakuru, Kenya will capture you like few other countries do. This is the country of the Maasai, the land of elephants, giraffes, cheetahs and lions.
Home to the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth - the annual wildebeest migration - Tanzania will impress you like no other place. Take a safari through the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater. Hike your heart out on Mount Kilimanjaro. Get off the beaten track in Ruaha and Selous. End your trip with some fabulous food and stunning beaches on the legendary island of Zanzibar.
No experience is quite like coming eye to eye with mountain gorillas in their natural setting. After you trek through dense jungles and up and down slippery slopes, the hour spent with our closest relatives is one experience you will carry with you for life. All this against the stunning backdrop of volcanoes and terraced farmlands in Rwanda, the Land of a Thousand Hills.
Don't see the destination of your choice? Contact us to find out about other tours